JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Trash pick-up for customers in Johnson City and some in Washington County will cost slightly more due to inflation.
Customers within city limits will now pay $13 a month, a $2 increase. Customers in the county will pay $18 per month, up $1.
Johnson City commissioners approved the fee hike unanimously at their meeting Thursday night.
Public Works Director Phil Pindzola said Solid Waste runs on a cash balance paid for by those fees and commercial trash collection. He said that method accrues very little debt.
The department expects inflation to continue. Without a fee increase, the cash balance from city customers would have been in the red by fiscal year 2028, according to Johnson City projections.
“What we project out is we look at where the cash is and where the equipment purchases will hit in the future, and we’ll be out of money in a couple of years, so we needed to do a rate increase,” Pindzola said.
Some residents were unbothered by the fee increase. Gary Drake, a city customer, said he’s been satisfied with the city’s service and doesn’t mind paying a little extra.
“Two dollars is not going to damage us,” Drake said. “Inflation is just killing everybody. It does surprise me that they only went up $2.”
The city projected several cost increases from 2022 to 2023.
The cost of fuel for solid waste’s large diesel trucks is budgeted for a 76% increase.
But the cost of dumpsters has also gone up 81% for front-loader containers and 91% for roll-off containers.
“Because we’re so intensive on big and large equipment, our cost of providing the service has really escalated,” Pindzola said.
Dumpster collection and rental fees will also see an increase to cover that cost.
Despite fee increases in 2018, 2019, and now, Pindzola said Johnson City still has the lowest trash collection fee in the region.
“We’re lower than any other city. We don’t get subsidized by the general fund. It’s all self-operating,” Pindzola said.
With the fee increase approved, Pindzola said funding for solid waste should be secured for at least five more years.
Commissioners also took action Thursday night to address high gas prices for residents. They voted to waive fees for Johnson City Transit buses from June 6 through June 30.